Spring is in the air and the days are getting longer – with more daylight hours, it's the perfect time to recreate outside! Unfortunately, we're not all taking advantage of the spring sun: a recent survey by the Physical Activity Council found that 83 million Americans were "totally sedentary" last year, the highest level of inactivity since 2007. Yikes! For our health and well-being, we need to change this and get moving!
If you need some prodding, you're in luck, as recent research tells us that there are more reasons than ever to not be lazy during our leisure time. Here's why we're lacing up our sneakers and moving!
1. You'll live longer
A recent article in JAMA Internal Medicine (the Journal of the American Medical Association) found that adults exercising during their leisure time live longer and have a reduced risk of premature death. Specifically, those who met the daily recommended level of physical activity for healthy adults (150 minutes a week, or 12,000 moves / day) reduced their risk of death by 31%! Not meeting the activity recommendations yet? That's – you still have a 20% reduced risk compared to someone who is sedentary. For those super-movers out there (those moving 3-5 times the recommended level of activity), the study found no harm in extensive exercise, and a 39% reduction in risk. Long story short, move more, even just a little, for a longer life!
2. A sharp mind
Who doesn't want to go toe-to-toe with their grandchildren in a board game? You can, simply by staying active. In older adults, higher levels of physical activity have been associated with better cognitive function – meaning that you can stay whip-smart into your 70's and 80's by making sure you're not sedentary. In a 2004 study in JAMA, older women who walked more performed better than inactive women on tests for cognition, memory, and attention. So, seniors, don't retire your walking shoes!
3. Your knees will thank you!
A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that adults suffering from knee arthritis experienced less decline in function when they were less sedentary. You might expect the opposite to be true, but in fact the study showed that staying active related to better physical function.
“People control their pain by doing less physical activity. But being more active can delay the functional decline that accompanies aging. Any activity is better than being sedentary.” Dr. Jungwha Lee, a lead author of the study, told the New York Times. Sounds like all the evidence we need to move more!
The research is clear that we should keep – and we want to know, why are you staying active?